Cette vs C'est

Hi everyone!

Does anyone else have a problem with hearing the difference between "cette" and "c'est"?

I know what they mean, but often during exercises I can't hear the difference and I can sometimes get multiple questions wrong. Is there a way to know the difference from the rest of the sentence?

June 21, 2014


You already have good answers here, but let me add my two cents, just in case you'd find my explanation easier to understand.

Cette is a demonstrative adjective, so a kind of determiner, and it is singular and feminine, so the only logical thing that can follow is a singular feminine noun or an adjective followed by a noun. Try replacing it by ma. If it makes sense, it's cette

C'est is a pronoun (ce) followed by the être verb. It can be followed by an adverb, a singular masculine adjective (ex. c'est beau) or an article which can only be singular, masculine or feminine (plural would change c'est to ce sont). Try replacing it by ceci est. If it makes sense, it's c'est.

On a side note, it could also be cet, which is the same as cette, but used with masculine words that start with a vowel sound. example : cet homme, cet avion, cet orage...

June 23, 2014

Hey, thanks for the help!

June 18, 2017

Also, do you know if there is a chart for this somewhere?

June 18, 2017

Well its hard but in my opinion cette sounds more like 'set' and c'est sounds like 'say or sé'. I have problems telling them apart too.

June 21, 2014

C'est sounds like 'Say'

Cette sounds like 'Set'

not exactly but that's how I distinguish them, they are similar.

June 21, 2014

Is there a way to know the difference from the rest of the sentence? You can try this ... :

"Cette" is one word and only used before a feminine singular noun. (It's a demonstrative adjective, but you don't need to worry about grammar, to understand this.) The plural of "cette" is "ces", regardless of gender.

"C'est" is a contraction of "ce" + "est". "Ce" is a neutral, demonstrative pronoun (again, not necessary to know this) followed by the verb "être". The plural would be "Ce sont ..."

So when you think you hear "Cette / C'est fille ... " or "C'est / Cette une belle fille ... ", first ask yourself if the noun is feminine, singular. If not, it's not "Cette". Then test the phrase by making the noun plural:

"Ces filles ... " (good - must be "Cette")

"Ce sont filles ..." (Non!)

"Ce sont des belles filles ..." (good - must be "C'est")

"Ces des belles filles ...." (C'est moche!)

June 21, 2014

I hate not being much of a help and I'm mirroring much of the abstract, floaty advice I was given when I had similar problems but honestly speaking, with enough practice in listening and understanding vocabulary and just being exposed to the same structure of sentences day-after-day, you will be able to pick out the logical alternative by subconsciously focusing on what it directly connects to.

June 21, 2014

cette pronounced set with emphases on the "t" sound , while c'est pronounced seh / say with no "t" sound at end .. hope it helps :)

June 21, 2014

That's right but if a vowel follows "c'est", the t becomes prominent. par exemple: C'est une bonne fille----> seh-toon-....

June 21, 2014

This is where I have the trouble, when C'est is used with a liaison

June 22, 2014

Once you get more familiar with the language, you'll automatically know which one makes sense in context. It's like to, two, and too. Nothing like practice (:

June 22, 2014
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